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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC203H1
Professor
jackveulgers
Semester
Winter

Description
March 18- Reading Emile Durkheim- “Anomic Suicide”  “No one can be happy or even exist unless his needs are sufficiently proportioned to his means." i.e. Needs must be met exactly or else it will continuously cause friction and pain.  There must be equilibrium o In animals, this equilibrium is established automatically because it is based on material conditions only. As long as they have the means to survive, animals will be satisfied and will not ask for more because it’s power of reflection is not developed enough to “imagine other ends than those implicit in its physical nature.” o The balance is automatic because as the work demanded for each organ itself depends on the general state of vital energy and the needs of organic equilibrium, use is regulated in turn by replacement. (not sure what this is going on about) o But this isn’t the case for humans because most of our needs are not dependent on our body, at least not to the same degree.  The quantity of material supplies necessary to the physical maintenance of a human life is debatable. It’s less exact than with animals but there are more combinations because of our will.  How do we determine the quantity of well-being, comfort or luxury legitimately to be craved by human being? o “Nothing appears in man’s organic nor in his psychological constitution which sets a limit to such tendencies. The functioning of individual life does not require them to ceases at one point rather than at another; the proof being that they have constantly increased since the beginnings of history, receiving more and more complete satisfaction, yet with no weakening of average health.”  “In no society are they equally satisfied in the different stages of the social hierarchy. Yet in its essential qualities, human nature is basically the same among all men. o So it’s not human nature that assigns the variable limits necessary to our needs. Therefore these limits are unlimited because they depend on the individual. Regardless of any external regulatory force, our capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss.”  this is a source of torment to itself. According to Durkheim, unlimited desires are insatiable by definition and insatiability is rightly considered a sign of morbidity and that humans often set themselves unattainable goals (this is an undetermined state). o Humans want to believe that their efforts were not in vain and that they are advancing towards a goal. But there is no goal to walk towards when you’re goal is infinity (unlimited desires). Not matter what humans do, the distance between them and their goal will always be the same and any sense of pride is deceptive since the distance has not proportionally decreased. “We might as well have made the motions without progress from the spot.” o “To pursue a goal which is by definition unattainable is to condemn oneself to a state of perpetual unhappiness.” Hope can sustain us for a while but not forever.  The more one has, the more one wants, since satisfactions received only stimulate instead of filling needs.  Are these actions considered agreeable? o 1. Only on condition of blindness to its uselessness. o 2. For this pleasure to be felt and to temper and half veil the accompanying painful unrest, such unending motion must at least always be easy and unhampered. If it’s interfered, there will only be restlessness and a lack of ease. o “Our thread of life on these conditions is pretty thin, breakable at any instant.”  To achieve something other than this restlessness and pain, the passions must be limited. “Only then can they be harmonized with the faculties and satisfied.” o Since humans can’t limit the passions themselves, there must be some exterior force to do it for them. Physical restraint will not work because “hearts cannot be touched by physio-chemical forces.”  Durkheim’s example: Appetites are not automatically restrained by physiological mechanisms but they can be halted by a limit that they recognize as just. “Men would never consent to restrict their desires if they felt justified in passing the assigned limit.” o “A regulatory force must play the same role for moral needs which the organism plays for physical needs. i.e., the force can only be moral. o The awakening of the conscience interrupted the state of equilibrium of the animal’s formant existence and it is the means to re-establish it. o The force must be an authority that they respect and which they yield to automatically. Only society can play the moderating role, either directly, as a whole or through one of its institutions. This is because society “is the only moral power superior to the individual, the authority of which he accepts.”  Only society has the power to stipulate laws, set the point which passions cannot go and estimate the reward offered to every class of human functionary (for common interest).  There has always been a “dim perception, in the moral consciousness of societies, of the respective value of different social services, the relative reward due to each, and the consequent degree of comfort appropriate on the average to workers in each occupation.” Occupations are assessed by public opinion and then a “certain coefficient of well-being” is assigned according to its place in the hierarchy.  Durkheim says that according to acceptable ideas, there is a certain way of living considered higher and more desirable (an upper limit) and a worker might aspire to reach that way of living. There is also a way of living that is low and undesirable and this is a limit which the worker will not allow himself to fall as long as he can help it. Both the upper limit and the lower limit differ for people working in different places, in different areas of expertise and people who have different jobs. o The rich man is criticised if he lives the life of a poor man and also if he goes overboard when seeking luxuries.  “A genuine regime exists…which fixes with relative precision the maximum degree of ease of living to which each social class may legitimately aspire.” However, this scale changes with the increase or decrease of collective revenue and the changes occurring in the moral ideas of society. So the idea of what is luxury and what isn’t changes from time to time “and the well-being which for long periods was granted to a class only by exception and supererogation, finally appears strictly necessary and equitable.”  In general, people recognize these limits and do not go beyond them. If they respect the regulations and are docile to collective authority (i.e. they have a wholesome moral constitution), they will not feel right to ask for more. This makes it an end and goal for passions. o According the Durkheim, these limits are not rigid or absolute o “The economic ideal assigned each class of citizens is itself confined to certain limits, within which the desires have free range.” o It’s this limitation and moderation that make people content with what they have while at the same time stimulating them to moderately improve it causes average contentment which makes people feel “calm, active happiness and pleasure in existing and living, all of which characterize health for societies as well as individuals.” this means generally people are happy with what they have and only want what they feel they deserve to have because of their actions. o “”For, loving what he has and not fixing his desire solely on what he lacks, his wishes and
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